Isaiah 40:19 MEANING

Isaiah 40:19
(19) The workman melteth . . .--The reign of Ahaz, not to speak of that of Manasseh, must have supplied the prophet with his picture of the idol factory not less fully than if he had lived in Babylon or Nineveh.

Spreadeth it over with gold.--The image of lead was covered over, as in the well-known story of Phidias's "Zeus," with plates of gold. The "silver chains" fastened it to the wall.

Verse 19. - The workman melteth a graven image; rather, the workman casteth an image (comp. Isaiah 41:7; Isaiah 44:9-17; Isaiah 46:6, 7). Israel's tendency to idolatry has been touched on in the earlier prophecies once or twice (Isaiah 2:8, 20; Isaiah 31:7); but in the later chapters idolatry is assailed with a frequency, a pungency, and a vigour that are new, and that imply a change, either in the prophet's circumstances or in his standpoint. Perhaps it is enough to suppose that, placing himself ideally among the captives, Isaiah sees that the Babylonian idolatry will be, or at any rate may be, a snare to them, and provides an antidote against the subtle poison. The special antidote which he employs is ridicule, and the first ground of his ridicule is the genesis or formation of an image. It is made by man himself, out of known material substances. Either a figure is cast in some inferior metal, and then coated with gold and finished with the graving tool, or a mere block of wood is taken and cut into shape. Can it be supposed that such things are "likenesses" of God, or that he is comparable to them? Casteth silver chains; as ornaments to be worn by the images, which were often dressed (see Thucyd., 2:13; Baruch 6:9-12).

40:18-26 Whatever we esteem or love, fear or hope in, more than God, that creature we make equal with God, though we do not make images or worship them. He that is so poor, that he has scarcely a sacrifice to offer, yet will not be without a god of his own. They spared no cost upon their idols; we grudge what is spent in the service of our God. To prove the greatness of God, the prophet appeals to all ages and nations. Those who are ignorant of this, are willingly ignorant. God has the command of all creatures, and of all created things. The prophet directs us to use our reason as well as our senses; to consider who created the hosts of heaven, and to pay our homage to Him. Not one fails to fulfil his will. And let us not forget, that He spake all the promises, and engaged to perform them.The workman melteth a graven image,.... Or, "the founder"; he melts some sort of metal, as iron, brass, copper, or lead, which he casts into a mould for an image, and afterwards graves, or gets it graved:

and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold; or, "the finer"; he stretches out plates of gold, and covers it with them, so that it looks as if it was made of solid gold, and deceives the eyes of men; such stupidity and vanity are there in mortals to believe that there can be deity in such a piece of workmanship!

and casteth silver chains to put about the graven image, either for ornament, or rather to fasten it to some wall or pillar, that it may stand upright, and may not be taken down and stole away, or blown down with the wind, or fall of itself and be broken; thus ridiculing the weakness of these idols, and the folly of the makers and worshippers of them. The Targum is,

"the silversmith joins silver chains to it.''

Courtesy of Open Bible